antique dresser/sideboard as vanity: do they hold up over time?

walkin_yesindeedSeptember 15, 2012

Pardon the multiple postings: I didn't phrase my question clearly the first time!

Serious sticker shock at Lowe's this week, looking at their semi-custom vanities. I'm guessing I can do better pricewise with a sideboard or dresser, converted to a vanity.

But various posters here have suggested that solid wood is not the best material in a bathroom that gets real use (ie, my kids' main bathroom -- not a guest bath or a powder room).

Those of you who've converted antique furniture to bathroom vanities, any regrets? any problems with finishes/lacquers, or with drawers or doors swelling shut when the humidity gets high? Any advice?

Thanks in advance!

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I am a fan of using old furniture for bathroom vanities in certain cases. I have done it 4 times. No humidity related problems. My master vanity has 2 sinks. I got my sideboard at an auction. I lightly sanded the existing finish on the top and applied 2 coats of polyurethane (satin.) My husband cut the holes for the self-rimming sinks. My plumber dropped in the sinks, caulked around them, and cut the holes in the back that he needed. Simple.

- Know yourself. I wipe off the counter every time I wash my face. (I am not otherwise a super careful person.) After 10 years the counter still looks great. Are you prepared to wipe off drips? I suppose if you have a heavy enough coat of poly, drips won't matter, but I wipe anyway. I probably wouldn't attempt this for children or careless teens.

- Shop carefully. Get the height that works best for you so that water doesn't run down your arms when you are washing your face. Figure out what type of cabinet functions best for you and wait to find a piece that is best. I like a combination of drawers and doors. (Remember, you will lose the top drawer and possibly more due to the sink. If you can find one that has a slight overhang in back, it will still touch the wall if you have a baseboard. Or you can cut away your baseboard. You don't want a gap between your wall and counter top. I will try to upload some pics later on when I have more time.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Are you talking about furniture type base with real vanity top (i.e. granite, marble, fake marble, laminate, etc) or are you talking about using the wood furniture top also? Makes a difference.

I believe slowgal is talking about using the wooden top.

It would make a difference. Several posters on here have repurposed lovely dressers, buffets, etc for vanities, but the ones I have seen have a bathroom vanity top.

Even though my old vanity is not a pieces of repurposed furniture, it is still wood and has held up for 25 years. My old cultured marble top is still going strong also.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 4:17PM
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It really depends on what you mean by "sticker shock" and, as tuesday_ said, whether you intend to use the wooden top or to replace that top with a more bathroom-friendly top. If you're replacing the top, it's not going to be inexpensive.

I wanted the look of what you're talking about but the practicality of a real vanity with real storage. (Keep in mind that you'll like have to modify the drawers, etc. and may lose a lot of storage with a dresser, etc. Buffets/sideboards may be better if they have doors.)

Here's what I went with. It was about $1K with a top and sinks and pre-drilled for faucets. But I bashed off the top with a hammer so that I could replace it with a top that I wanted and with the white, squarer sinks I wanted (that cost me an extra $200 for the sinks and $850 for the top/backsplash with installation). (There was nothing wrong with the top that came with it (it was polished, cream-colored, vein-cut travertine), but it didn't match my remodel.) Anyhow, it'll give you an idea of what you can get for the money. It's solid wood, very heavy, and has a ton of storage. It's made by Silkroad Exclusive, and you can get it (and ones like it) on the Internet (including ebay). You may also want to check out Premier Vanities (an online retailer), which has a lot of furniture-base look-alikes.

Here's a couple of pictures of what I used that'll also show you how much storage it has:

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 7:39PM
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KevinMP is right about the practicality of storage that is designed for bathrooms. I would love to have that kind of efficient storage! We were on a very tight budget, however. Sideboard $225 plus sinks from Lowe's that I think I paid $32 a piece for.

Here is a pic. I have more to upload but it looks like I will have to do it one post at a time. If there is a way to upload multiple images, please tell me.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:55AM
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Thanks to all of you: this is very valuable feedback.

I hadn't thought about how difficult it might be to find just the right piece, which is a good point. I'd be adding a stone or Corian top (or buying a piece with one installed); I don't trust either my sons or my husband with a wood-top vanity!

KevinMP, that is a gorgeous vanity! Thanks for the Silk Road and Premier advice.

Slowgal, yours is lovely. Thanks for the pic and the wise words.

Tuesday, we are looking at two bathroom renovations; one of them has a 20+ yo vanity which is doing fine, but the one in my kids' bath is slowly going the way of all flesh... otherwise we wouldn't bother!

Any more advice or insight? All welcomed!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:05AM
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